When Katori Hall started pitching her play about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s last night on earth, no one in the United States was interested. But, says director Robert O'Hara, after Hall took her play to England and The Mountaintop made the West End and won the 2010 Olivier Award, suddenly everyone wanted it, and it made it on Broadway. Now it's coming to Houston's Alley Theatre starring Bowman Wright as King and Joaquina Kalukango as Camae, the hotel maid. The setting is the Lorraine Motel on April 3, 1968. ''It begins with one man in the room and his visitor is a beautiful maid from the hotel who brings him a cup of coffee,'' says O'Hara, who is also a playwright and an adjunct professor at New York University. This was a troubled time for King, O'Hara says. ''He was trying to put a movement that was falling to pieces around him back together. He'd been down to Memphis one time already and it was a disaster.'' Hall's play is not a documentary but an imagining of what that last night was, O'Hara says. ''Theater is about questions and about what-ifs. This is one of the greatest what-ifs,'' Hall says.
7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays. Through February 3.
Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: Jan. 11. Continues through Feb. 3, 2013